The Wizard of Oz-1939 film review

The Wizard of Oz 1939: a Must-See Film for Fantasy Fans

Last updated on September 24th, 2023 at 11:22 am

The Wizard of Oz is a 1939 American musical fantasy film directed by Victor Fleming and starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, and Frank Morgan. The film is based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and follows a young girl named Dorothy who has been swept away from her home in Kansas to a magical land called Oz.

Along the way, she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion who join her on her journey to meet the Wizard of Oz, who they believe can help them return to Kansas. The film is known for its use of Technicolor, and fantasy storytelling, and its enduring popularity.

That a film should not only entertain but also educate its viewers is unquestionably clear in The Wizard of Oz 1939 Hollywood film. I must say why it won the Oscar prize in 1944. It is a pure example of how a film can play an important role in making people think of the necessity of cognitive standing. I have watched it as a part of the 101 Best Films of 100 Years listing.

The film has provoked me to think whether what we need is a brain or an academic qualification; whether the practice of a brain or certification of academic excellence; whether it is the heart that matters or proper use of it; whether it is wisdom or courage that is counted of a man, or simply the all that make a knowledgeable man.

The Wizard of Oz-1939 has reminded us of how the perceptions, conception, and idealisation of the brain, of a heart, and wisdom we formulate subconsciously in our brain. The words of wisdom by the great Wizard of Oz sounded timeless to me. Through a children’s story, The Wizard of Oz-1939 delivers a powerful message regarding the hidden treasure of a man.


Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog, Toto, got home and complained to her Auntie Emily and Uncle Henry that Miss Gulch hit him because he chased her cat. But none paid heed to her complaints. Both kept busy counting chicks in the incubators.

The next day Miss Gulch (Margaret Hamilton), with a decree from the Mayor that reads a message to seize the dog, appeared at their door. She is determined to take Toto away as a punishment. Instead of Dorothy’s strong protestation Miss Gulch put Toto inside her cane-basket and cycled away. But Toto jumped off the basket and returned to Dorothy, immediately.

In desperation to save Toto, she knew that Miss Gulch was coming back for him, Dorothy arranged a trunk to carry her belongings and fled from home that afternoon. After walking for a while she came to an astrologer’s chamber. She wished to consult with him to go to Europe. But she was, with the help of his crystal ball, given the bad news that her dear Auntie and Uncle Henry were in trouble.

Immediately, forgetting going away far from them, she started for home. However, a strong twister arose in the area, and Dorothy was caught in it on her way back home. Braving the strong wind she managed to reach home and got inside her room.

As she tried to look outside through the window, a strong wind struck the window smashing it and a broken part flew and fell on Dorothy’s head. Dorothy fainted. Passed out she started to have a dream journey. She saw that after many whirlpools in the air the house came at rest at a place, which is known as Munchkinland.

The house was just dropped on the Wicked Witch of the East leaving her dead underneath. Woken up, along with Toto, early in the morning, she had opened the door and was surprised to see the beautiful fairyland. A land of beautiful rivers, majestic mountains, gorgeous flower gardens and neatly built roads.

At her amazement regarding the surrounding magnificence appeared Glinda (Billie Burke), the Good Witch of the North. She lets Dorothy know that the Munchkinland is freed from the Wicked Witch of the East because of her, that she is the one who killed her. At her invitation, all Munchkins who were asleep for a long time woke up with merriment and introduced themselves to Dorothy with grand welcome festivity.

When the celebration was over, Dorothy expected to go back to Kansas but was informed by the Good Witch that the great Wizard of Oz (Frank Morgan) in the Emerald City is the only one capable of getting her back home. Therefore she advised her that “the sooner he gets out of Oz altogether, the safer she’ll sleep’.

To secure her journey to the Emerald City, the Good Witch of the North gave her the pair of ruby slippers, once belonged to the Wicked Witch of the East, and advised to follow the Yellow Brick Road that leads to the Emerald City from Munchkinland. As advised, she started walking down the road from a starting point.

After a while, she noticed that the single road ended at an intersection with four other roads in different directions. Confused, she asked herself ‘which way to go?’ A Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) from the adjacent cornfield replied ‘that way is nice’ and ‘people go that way too’.

Surprised to see a Scarecrow talking, she wondered why he was pointing both ways to follow, and why he couldn’t make up his mind for one specific way. He replied that he could not make up his mind because he does not have a brain. He is only straw.

She questioned him how he can talk if he did not have a brain. The Scarecrow replied, “Some people without brains do a lot of talking, don’t they?”

As they talked she took pity on the Scarecrow and told him to get down from the pole. Unable he needed her help to get himself down from the pole. He lamented to her that ‘he is a failure because he doesn’t have a brain. Dorothy asked him what he will do if he had a brain, he said he could spend time pleasantly talking to flowers, consult with the rain, scratch his head thinking and so, only if he had a brain.

Dorothy told him that she was going to The Wizard of Oz in the Emerald City to get help go get home in Kansas. Scarecrow wishes if he gets a brain from The Wizard of Oz if he goes to see him too, and implores her to take him to the Emerald City. Off, they started at the Yellow Brick Road again.

After they had gone a little far, they came close an apple orchard on one side of the road. Tempted Dorothy tried to pick an apple but was interjected by the tree itself. The tree threw some of its apples at them as it got mocked for its protectionist behaviour toward its fruits.

Delighted, Dorothy and the Scarecrow began gathering the apples. But, a pair of feet attracted Dorothy’s attention while she was collecting an apple. She banged on the feet and realised that it was made out of tin. Stood up, she discovered a complete tin man (Jack Haley), rusted who had been there for a long time.

A squealing sound came out from Tin Man as she banged on it. The sound from it indicated an oil can close to it and signalled her to pour some oil on its mouth to make it free from rust. Oiled, his mouth and ears were freed and started talking again. He told them that, about a year ago he was chopping a tree when suddenly it began to rain, and right in the middle of chop it got rusted solid.

They thought the Tin Man was made perfectly until he said that he was not perfect because he does not have a heart inside his body. After all, the tinsmith forgot to give him a heart while he made him. The Tin Man further said that he is like an empty kettle and torn apart. He lacks a heart and needs a heart to be a kind, gentle and sentimental human.

Dorothy invited the Tin Man, too, to the Emerald City so he could ask The Wizard of Oz for a heart for him. For Dorothy to get to home, the Scarecrow to get a brain and the Tin Man to get a heart, together they off to The Wizard of Oz.

After a little far, they came to a place that looked dark and creepy and heard the cries of unusual creatures. It is a place where they could encounter lions, tigers and bears. As they walked through the Yellow Brick Road they indeed found a man (Bert Lahr) in the lion’s body approaching them in a fierce look. Nevertheless, they found that the lion was a coward one who lacked the courage to catch a sheep.

They have taken the lion on their way to The Wizard of Oz to get him some courage. Off, they started for the Emerald City again.

With many difficulties created by the Wicked Witch of the West, they reached the Emerald City and knocked on the big door of the city. As the gatekeeper did not want to open the door to them Dorothy stated that the Good Witch of the North sent her, and as a proof of that, she had ruby slippers on her feet that she gave her.

The people of the city repaired Scarecrow; cleaned the Tin Man; pruned the lion and gave Dorothy beauty care. Entertained and refreshed they headed to meet the greatest Wizard of Oz through an emerald dreamy tunnel.

Behind the empty throne from a ball of fire appeared a bodiless head of an aged person with a big deep voice who declared himself to be Oz, and asked them who they were. The great Oz declared that he knew why they were there and said that “the beneficent Oz has every intention of granting their requests. But first, they must prove themselves worthy by performing a very small task which is bringing the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West.

He resolutely sent them back with empty hands for the broomstick for their wishes to be granted. Together, the four started for the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West. But Dorothy and Toto were taken captives from the adjacent forest to the witch’s castle.

The Witch craved her ruby slippers and was reminded that she would not be able to take them as long as she is alive. So to kill her she set her life to an hourglass in an empty room.

Meanwhile, Toto was able to escape from the castle and led the others to the castle to rescue her. They secretly entered the castle and rescued Dorothy by killing the Witch. With the splashing water, the Witch melted away and Dorothy was entitled to own the broomstick. Happy, they returned to the emerald city with it.

As they stood in front of the throne of The Wizard of Oz, he asked them why they had come back. They told him that they had brought the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy urged him that he keeps his promises to grant their wishes, but he said, ‘not so fast and need to give a little thought to it’, and told them to come back the next day.

In the meantime, Toto managed to sneak out and ran to a tall emerald curtain and drew it, behind which an old man in the black suit was speaking to the microphone. His voice was travelling to the mysterious head over the smoky throne.

Realising that he is exposed he tried to cover himself up with the curtain only to fail. Because Dorothy approached him and asked, “Who are you”, “I am the great and powerful Wizard of Oz”, said the old man. Dorothy is surprised to see the ‘powerful Wizard of Oz’ as just a mere old man and expresses her disbelief. But the old man defended himself and stated, “I’m afraid it’s true. There’s no other Wizard except me”.

The Wizard of Oz film review
Inside the Emerald City of The Wizard of Oz 1939 film

They blamed him for being a humbug and complained about the promises he made to them about a brain to the Scarecrow, a heart to the Tin Man, some courage to the lion and home to Dorothy.

After a little of pondering the Wizard approached the Scarecrow who came for a brain he said that “Anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities. Seats of great learning”.

The Wizard continues, “Where men go to become great thinkers. They think deep thoughts, and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got. A diploma.

Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitatus Committeeatum E Pluribus Unum, l hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th.D., That’s Doctor of Thinkology”. Immediately, after having the certificate the brainless Scarecrow was reminded of a geometric theorem and realised that he has got a brain.

To the lion who lacks courage he said, “As for you, my fine friend, you’re a victim of disorganised thinking. You are under the delusion that because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You’re confusing courage with wisdom. Back where I come from, we have men who are called “heroes.” Once a year, they take their fortitude out of mothballs and parade it down the main street.

And they have no more courage than you have. But they have one thing that you haven’t got. A medal. Therefore, for meritorious conduct, extraordinary valour conspicuous bravery against Wicked Witches, l award you the Triple Cross. You are now a member of the Legion of Courage.

To the galvanised tin man who lacks a heart, the old man said, “You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable. Back where I come from, there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called Phil–Good-deed-doers. And their hearts are no bigger than yours. But they have one thing you haven’t got: A testimonial.

Therefore, in consideration of your kindness, l take pleasure at this time in presenting you with a small token of our esteem and affection. And remember my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love but by how much you are loved by others”.

The tin man was given a heart-shaped red-coloured clock with a chain to hang around the neck. Afterwards, he felt and listened to the tick’ sound of the heart and was very happy.

At last to Dorothy, the Wizard said, “You force me into a cataclysmic decision. The only way to get Dorothy to Kansas is for me to take her myself”. He willed to take her to Kansan by a hot air balloon. He gave a speech to his followers that he is going to have an arduous journey into the outer stratosphere.

He distributed reign to the three men the duties. To Scarecrow by virtue of his highly superior brain, the Tin Man by virtue of his heart, and the lion by virtue of his courage to rule in his stead.

While she was still in the basket on the hot air balloon, Toto jumped off her hands to follow a cat. Just at the moment of take-off, Dorothy got down out of the basket in search of Toto. Not knowing how to bring the balloon back down for Dorothy, he went up and went away leaving Dorothy in his city among others, disappointed.

Suddenly the Good Witch of Munchkinland appeared in the hall. She told Dorothy that she doesn’t need her help to go back to Kansas and she always had that power. As she would not believe her about that, the good witch let her realise that for herself.

The good witch revealed to her that the magic ruby slippers would take her to Kansas in seconds. When Dorothy says goodbye to her friends, the Tin Man realised that he has a heart because it was breaking to see her go, the lion said he would never have found his courage if it wasn’t for her. Once saying goodbye is over, the Good Witch told her to close her eyes and to tap her slippers three times on the ground.

She told her to think, ‘There is no place like home’. Dorothy repeated it for a couple of times and woke up to see her Auntie Em, Uncle Henry and others around her who were waiting here to wake up from her long sleep. Then she talked to them about the dream. The Wizard of Oz (1939) ends leaving you preoccupied with the thoughts.

The Wizard of Oz 1939 Quotes

Even though The Wizard of Oz 1939 is a compelling story to replicate to educate and to be educated there are still a few lines I would always remember.

Anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain.

“You are under the delusion that because you run away from danger, you have no courage. You’re confusing courage with wisdom”.

“Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable”.

“A heart is not judged by how much you love but by how much you are loved by others”.


The Wizard of Oz-1939 can be one of the great films that can arouse your thinking process momentarily. The music, the setting and the words of wisdom altogether are bound to make your time worthwhile.

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